Giddyup, Trigger


Above, a notorious child molester. That dirty old bird would be on a police registry these days.

Ovid tells his story, and a number of other equally appalling ones, in the Metamorphoses, a text continually read and immensely loved since Ovid’s own day. Ovid is omnipresent in Dante, and Shakespeare, and… everywhere, really; or at least was, until the the fashion came in for illiterate writers.

Mean old Ovid, however, is too strong for the stomachs of certain sensitive souls at Columbia University:

During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, [a] student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape … [T]he student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text… [T]he student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.

I feel very grateful to have bailed out of Academe when I did. My idea of a classroom is one in which nobody ever feels safe — least of all, the teacher.

The piece linked above deploys just about every buzzword associated with the current cult of hysterical hypersensitivity: safe, self-preservation, triggered, survivor, share, concerns, offensive, marginalize, identity, intervention, transgression (this one not at all in a good sense, but an unambiguously bad one); insensitive, traumatize, silence, facilitate, support, training, best practice, framing, engage, effective, feedback, addressing (‘issues’, not letters). The only one missing is ‘inappropriate’.

In general, the impression one receives is that Columbia undergraduates are hagridden, traumatized, oppressed, disadvantaged, suffering souls, shying from a trigger a minute like a skittish pony in rattlesnake country; easily intimidated and silenced, and so distressed by the coarseness of their teachers that they can barely force themselves through the classroom door.

I must say they do not make this impression in the places, numerous in my neighborhood, where they customarily resort. There, they comport themselves with an assurance bordering on insolence, and a very conspicuous air of self-satisfaction and entitlement.

Perhaps initiatives like the one quoted above are best regarded as a kind of consumer advocacy. The kids are shopping in the Columbia mall, and somebody is going to foot a pretty hefty bill for it. There is therefore every reason why they shouldn’t be inconvenienced or aggrieved by the clerks behind the counter. The customer is always right. If they find Ovid yucky and out of date, they shouldn’t have to read him.

Of course it’s overdetermined. There’s also the elite-as-victim angle. Columbia and all the Ivies are very much in the business of credentialling the future management cadre of the empire; these are people many or most of whom will be dishing out a lot more shit in their future managerial or professional lives than they will ever have to eat. No doubt there’s an element of self-absolution for them in seeing themselves as suffering, ill-used victims.

16 thoughts on “Giddyup, Trigger

  1. Deliciously (or depressingly) ironic: those so quick to tell others to “check your privilege” have found a new … privilege.

    • In the very beginning, I was kinda down with at least the concept of “checking your privelege” as there’s always been a problem with well-off white college types muscling into various people’s movements under the assumption that they (aforementioned well-off white college types) knew how to run a movement better than anyone else there.

      It wasn’t very long, though, before people started using the phrase to try to shut down any kind of legitimate criticism. Now it seems that if some teeth-grinding SJW is made the least bit uncomfortable by the slightest bit of criticism, the admonition to “check your privelege” is whipped out.

  2. brilliant mjs. who can forget, “beat me, beat me, kindly masetto?” as a victim of over-zealous corporal punishers at home & school, i find mozart’s endorsement of domestic violence (by having the woman beg for it, no less!) to be insensitive. and monostatos can no longer be black (green is in i think) b/c, as events in baltimore prove, we are so sensitive to the feelings of black people.

    i think the schools are leery of teaching students that people, for good & ill, have been different than we are. when i first read that they wanted to kill hero in “much ado about nothing” for her supposed immodesty, i got the vapors. nobody tell these kids that rape inside of marriage was not uncommon or even necessarily “wrong” just a few short decades ago in the west. in certain circles, (“liberals”) people get scandalized by even knowing such things regularly occurred.

    and why do indoctrination factories not want students to know that people have been different, that there have many, many different ways in which sex, work, family, warfare, religion, money, etc., have been configured? can’t think of any reasons….nothing comes to mind…

  3. with your background michael, you may know this: being a cup bearer is a euphemism for the exchange of fluids. people can get offended for even knowing about such things as the pederastic culture of ancient greece. omg! it’s icky! and wrong!

  4. Creating ‘safe spaces” where Ovid cannot rape you with his Priapus-sized biggus dickus is what this system is all about. Anything to inspire fear and loathing of the other, and separate us into our respective pens for the slaughter.

    I am sure working class minorities and women appreciate being treated as porcelain-brittle children by porcelain-skinned bourgeois trustafarians who have made it their mission to protect them from the scourge of cis-gendered white males. Malcolm X had a different sort of “trigger warning” in mind.

    • So Goddamn true! Although, I think we’re all being herded into a single giant pen ran by Wackenhut, food prepared by Aramark and gift shop operated by Wal-Mart.

    • i made the mistake (or not) of clicking on your m. x link, and several more of same, right before going to my ultra-lib d.c. episcopalian church yesterday a.m. (yeah, i’m a churchy. so sue me.) a seminarian, who is some letter in the lgbtq spectrum, gave the sermon & hit a lot of good points about discrimination as well as prisons, homelessness, events in baltimore, etc., etc. in the US & then astoundingly (or not) called for MO’ BETTA RULES & REGS, mo betta voting, queer friendly bureaucrats.. then one of the fathers (i mean parents) of the church got up & applauded her, saying, “we need more of this kind of prophetic ministry.” yes, i am the elijah of the voting booth. my eyes still hurt from all the rolling. getting a homophobic OR gay-lovin’ uncle sam out of your bedroom isn’t a concern.

    • Every time I hear some college leftie outfit bitching about not having a “safe space” for something or other, I roll my eyes so hard that I sprain the little muscles up in there that make my eyes move.

      Basically, they want a place to hide out from the rest of the world and stroke each other while, outside, many more people like them are still putting up with shit that gets worse by the day.

      Fuck your little campus “safe space” — how about making the rest of the world outside your campus a safe space?

      Cripes, man.

  5. i dont believe most people who insist they were ‘triggered’ by something they read in a class, in a book, in a magazine, online, anywhere are truly survivors of sexual assault. i think they’re people who borderline personality disorder with narcissistic features who have figured a way of attracting a stream of dramatic, unrelenting positive attention, strokes, door prizes— whatever. i find this forking infuriating.

    i’m a survivor of sexual assault. my mother was a survivor of sexual assault. we rank as high as one can in that everlovin roster: child survivors of sexual assault. my mother received her doctorate circa 1960. i have three degrees as well. neither of us were sheltered much from life, nevermind two thousand year old literature that clearly should have broken us in pieces. so help me, people that fragile dont belong in the real world, much less learning about it. thing is? again: it’s not the assaulted who are raining down this assault on freedom of speech, freedom of learning. it’s the wannabe-assaulted, which makes it exponentially more despicable.

  6. ps. that ‘disengagement’? that’s a remnant— a dingleberry off the tail of multiple personality disorder. it’s dramatic, yes, but it is not real. this stuff is all directly descendent from the SRA/MPD panics of the 1980s. their parents really believed that as toddlers, our rape culturists were in daily danger of airborne utensil-rectal assault by clowns & chuck norris before their airplanes landed so they could be picked up, on time, at nursery school. grown up, the same toddlers apparently werent bright enough, or adult enough, to rebel— so they gave us this.

    okay, done. again, i wish i couldve edited, i woulda stuck the whole mess in the same [righteously angry] post. yow.

  7. The customer is always right. If they find Ovid yucky and out of date, they shouldn’t have to read him.

    And now they won’t.

    The article is framed as a rejection of trigger warnings, but the buried lede is that Columbia has caved and is dropping Ovid’s Metamorphoses from the required reading curriculum, replacing it with the presumably more PC Heroides (this last fact isn’t included in the article, but I looked up their new syllabus). They got a pro forma denial that the choice had anything to do with the trigger warning debate, but honestly what else could it be? Has the Metamorphoses suddenly ceased to be a major source for other writers in the Western literary tradition, or is it that they’ve given up the idea of teaching students to recognize allusions in the works of other writers? Perhaps the latter, because they’re also including Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, a work that has never, to my certain knowledge, inspired any other book. They’re giving into not only the students’ adoption of identity politics, but also their tendency to treat their own birthdate as the limit of their intellectual horizon. Toni Morrison may still be alive, but something published in 1977 is as remote from them as Ovid, Homer, or Vergil, so why not teach it that way?

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